I have always given credit to the GOP for having a more existential approach to politics than the Democrats, whom I refer to, both lovingly and despairingly, as the cat herd. If there is one thing we could learn from the Rethugs, this is it: how to pull back, take in the entire picture and strategize for the good of the party, because purity doesn’t matter, being the party in power does.
As well you know, three Republican Senators, Murkowski, Collins and Romney, have gone on record as refusing to align themselves with Lindsey Graham’s resolution condemning the House impeachment inquiry. This is making the 53-Senator majority seem like a lot thinner firewall than it used to be considered a while back. So, not surprisingly, look who sticks his antennae out of the woodwork and is making sounds like he might be ready to come back out into the room again, but Jeff Sessions? Who wants to bet that Moscow Mitch gave him a call in recent days and said, “For Chrissake, we have to DO something!” or words to that effect? So Sessions picked up the phone himself. The Hill:
Sessions, who served in the Senate from 1997 to 2017 before President Trump tapped him to be his first attorney general, recently spoke on the phone with conservative Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) to get his reaction to a potential Senate bid. Brooks has already endorsed GOP state Rep. Arnold Mooney in the primary race.
Sessions also called Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Ala.) last week, Bryne confirmed to The Hill. Byrne, who is among the five Republicans running in the Senate primary, declined to discuss the nature of the call or get into any specifics.
He insisted he would not drop out of the Senate race if Sessions decides to join it.
“Jeff and I talked last week,” Byrne told The Hill on Tuesday. “I won’t reveal the details of that conversation but I am not leaving the race. I have qualified and I am in it to the end no matter who is in or out.”
The other Republicans in the Senate race are: former Auburn University football coach Tommy Tuberville; Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill; and Roy Moore, the former state Supreme Court chief justice who was defeated by Democrat Doug Jones in the 2017 special election amid sexual assault allegations against Moore.
The fact that Sessions is doing this just underscores the fact that McConnell has probably not had a good night’s sleep in a while now, because even with the economy still going strong and public impeachment hearings not yet begun, the Democrats seem to be getting it together, with money coming in and good polling numbers; while all the while more Republicans are dropping like somebody just started spraying a for-Rethugs-only can of Raid. That is not what McConnell had in mind for Fall of 2019, you may rest assured of that. Axios:
House Republicans in swing districts are retiring at a very fast pace, especially in the suburbs of Texas and elsewhere. (Republicans talk grimly of the “Texodus.”) Rep. Greg Walden — the top Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and the only Republican in Oregon’s congressional delegation — yesterday shocked the party by becoming the 19th GOP House member to not seek re-election.
The Republican Senate majority, once considered relatively safe, suddenly looks in serious jeopardy. Democrats are raising more money, and polling better, than Republican incumbents in battleground after battleground.
President Trump trails every major Democratic candidate nationally and in swing states — and his favorable ratings remain well under 50%.
You haven’t heard any pompous crowing lately about the Republicans taking back the House (other than Trump’s recent idiotic comment about “Kevin will be Leader”) nor will you, because there are lots bigger fish to fry, and three Senate seats are starting to look more like a “three alarm fire” than a cushion to be depended on.
National Journal’s Josh Kraushaar writes in his “Against the Grain” column that “the pathway for a narrow Democratic takeover of the upper chamber is looking clearer than ever”: “If Trump doesn’t win a second term, Democrats only need to net three seats to win back the majority.”
Scott Reed, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce senior political strategist, tells me that third-quarter fundraising reports showing three Republican senators being out-raised by Democratic challengers (in Arizona, Iowa and Maine) “are a three-alarm fire.”
“The party was shaken by that,” Reed said. “We’re all worried.”
The well-funded Chamber started TV ads in Arizona last week, launches an ad today in Maine, and will add a third state next week.
That’s the earliest the group has ever gone on the air: Ads typically begin after Thanksgiving or New Year’s.
“We have to spend early because the climate stinks,” Reed said. “All these incumbent senators have terrible job approvals and terrible favorables.”
But Reed thinks Trump has a better than 50-50 chance of hanging on: “He’s still wildly popular in the middle of the country.”
Maybe and maybe not. A 69% disapproval rating, along with 2/3 approval for impeachment does not translate as wild popularity in most people’s minds. However, putting that aside for the moment, just watch for obvious signs, like Sessions coming out of retirement and getting back into the game. The GOP is far from complacent, they’re on the run. You don’t need to read political tea leaves for this one, common sense will do.